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Thread: Victims of their own success?

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    Victims of their own success?

    There are always likely to be particular venues or events which become more and more popular - the places which make that extra effort to deliver what we dancers want, the places which offer something special, the places which just have a buzz about them. In many ways this is great - the organisers are rewarded by higher numbers through the door, more dancers start to seek out these venues from further afield adding variety and interest, the standard of dancing rises, and a good night starts to become more or less a certainty.

    So what is the problem then? Well the dilemma seems to be this; if the event is pay on the door with no limit on numbers (except the venue's fire safety capacity limit) and no gender balancing then eventually the dance floor starts to become over-crowded and gender imbalance may also become more pronounced. An alternative is to introduce advanced ticketing with a limit on numbers which is intended to avoid serious overcrowding and create gender balance (as Utopia do). This also has drawbacks however - tickets can quickly sell out so you have to book in advance and tickets for single ladies sell out very quickly indeed. You have to commit much further ahead and then may face the hassle of having to try to sell tickets if for some reason you cannot attend (for example because of illness).

    If on the other hand you simply carry on as a pay on the door event with "unlimited" numbers and no gender balancing then I suppose what happens is that eventually the event starts to become less popular because of the overcrowding and / or the gender imbalance. In other words the reputation of the event has to suffer and some of the customers have to have less than good experiences in order to gradually bring the numbers attending back down to a more reasonable level - either that or some other competing venue / event raises its game and starts to become the new venue with a buzz so people start to go there instead.

    I've had a lot of great experiences at the monthly Rugby free-styles and often said so on this forum (perhaps it is all my fault then). So the Rugby free styles are great then, but their understandable increasing popularity is starting to cause a few problems. Last night's free-style probably had the highest ever attendance (I am guessing it was around 150 people) and Rugby isn't a large venue. This meant that the dance floor was very crowded for most of the night meaning that collision avoidance started to supplant enjoyable dancing and you had to spend far more time watching out for other couples than looking at your partner.

    I am sure that Rugby isn't the only venue or event that is perhaps becoming "too popular" and I don't know what, if anything, can or should be done about it. Should there be a lower limit on numbers? Would advance ticketing and gender balancing be the best way forward? - or is it best simply to change nothing and let any problems "solve themselves"?

    What do others think and are there other examples of this sort of problem up and down the country?

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lost Leader View Post
    There are always likely to be particular venues or events which become more and more popular - the places which make that extra effort to deliver what we dancers want, the places which offer something special, the places which just have a buzz about them. In many ways this is great - the organisers are rewarded by higher numbers through the door, more dancers start to seek out these venues from further afield adding variety and interest, the standard of dancing rises, and a good night starts to become more or less a certainty.

    So what is the problem then? Well the dilemma seems to be this; if the event is pay on the door with no limit on numbers (except the venue's fire safety capacity limit) and no gender balancing then eventually the dance floor starts to become over-crowded and gender imbalance may also become more pronounced. An alternative is to introduce advanced ticketing with a limit on numbers which is intended to avoid serious overcrowding and create gender balance (as Utopia do). This also has drawbacks however - tickets can quickly sell out so you have to book in advance and tickets for single ladies sell out very quickly indeed. You have to commit much further ahead and then may face the hassle of having to try to sell tickets if for some reason you cannot attend (for example because of illness).

    If on the other hand you simply carry on as a pay on the door event with "unlimited" numbers and no gender balancing then I suppose what happens is that eventually the event starts to become less popular because of the overcrowding and / or the gender imbalance. In other words the reputation of the event has to suffer and some of the customers have to have less than good experiences in order to gradually bring the numbers attending back down to a more reasonable level - either that or some other competing venue / event raises its game and starts to become the new venue with a buzz so people start to go there instead.

    I've had a lot of great experiences at the monthly Rugby free-styles and often said so on this forum (perhaps it is all my fault then). So the Rugby free styles are great then, but their understandable increasing popularity is starting to cause a few problems. Last night's free-style probably had the highest ever attendance (I am guessing it was around 150 people) and Rugby isn't a large venue. This meant that the dance floor was very crowded for most of the night meaning that collision avoidance started to supplant enjoyable dancing and you had to spend far more time watching out for other couples than looking at your partner.

    I am sure that Rugby isn't the only venue or event that is perhaps becoming "too popular" and I don't know what, if anything, can or should be done about it. Should there be a lower limit on numbers? Would advance ticketing and gender balancing be the best way forward? - or is it best simply to change nothing and let any problems "solve themselves"?

    What do others think and are there other examples of this sort of problem up and down the country?
    An interesting and insightful post.

    Yes - that is exactly the situation at iJig (Hatfield) last night.

    I arrived at 9:10ish - and..............it was mega-packed already.

    Eventually, the doors were locked - and people were turned away.

    And I quickly realised that the gender balance was seriously skewed, because early on I had a 'triple' ask (ie 3 asks at the same time) - and it happened again later.

    It was very crowded on the floor - with several bangs and bumps. That is the price to be paid unfortunately.

    Still, I really enjoyed the evening - there was a good atmosphere - and great music from JB.

    As to the solution.....a difficult one. I guess the difficulty for organisers is that it is hard to predict how many people will come through the door. And the ticket only option as you describe, has some disadvantages: would I have gone last night - if I had to buy a ticket 3 weeks before? I dunno. For me, sometimes, it is only on the day - or in the hour before, that I decide to go.........depending on all sorts of things (but that is just me).

    Of course, as the evening progresses, it seems there is more of a gender balance (as people leave etc) - and that was so last night.

    *** WARNING *** JiveLad brainstorm ahead

    With regards to overcrowding in general - of course the market mechanism to manage this would be to put up the price........iJig was £10 - and this was good value - if you think about 5 hours dancing, including an Argentine Tango workshop. Would as many people go if it was (say) £15? Would that be 'fair'? A tricky one - and it goes against the communitarian dimension of Ceroc/MJ 'dancing for all' which is important (at least to me). £15 seems more the going price for a Utopia type 2 room event......(??) - and especially in these c.crunch times price uplifts do not seem the right approach.

    One tangential solution is perhaps for women to feel more free to dance with each other, so there is not so much dependency on men.

    Another solution could be differential pricing - eg. men get in for a fiver....
    (ie the opposite of muggle club policy of a Thursday night - chicks in for free).

    And another solution could be for the organiser to employ gigolos - who would be there 'on tap' for the ladies.
    Last edited by JiveLad; 1st-February-2009 at 02:59 PM.

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Gender balancing can only be done by an advance booking mechanism. I have never organised an event but I suspect that advance booking
    * adds a cost overhead
    * may lead to a lower attendance than would otherwise be the case
    * doesn't stop some people from just turning up on spec anyway

    Numbers-wise I'd presume there is a limit set by the venue albeit that may not be done with partner dancing considerations in mind so it's for the organisers to determine this themselves and that may take some fine tuning (I remember Utopia team having to tweak this for Twickenham following feedback) Additionally, turning people away really is a last resort given that they may have travelled quite some distance to get there.

    Online booking systems (and a self-printed receipt) can help in some cases as they allow advance booking right up until the event and ppl don't have to wait for tickets in the post, etc. How viable they are for smaller organisations I am not sure.

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Regrettably if the event is too crowded it is because it is too cheap. The better alternative, for us, is more freestyles.

    As for the gender balance, teaching more "double trouble" or "co-pilot" leading would help.

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Quote Originally Posted by JiveLad View Post
    And the ticket only option as you describe, has some disadvantages: would I have gone last night - if I had to buy a ticket 3 weeks before? I dunno. For me, sometimes, it is only on the day - or in the hour before, that I decide to go.........depending on all sorts of things (but that is just me).

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    It's certainly not a new thing. This has been a problem at certain venues ever since I started dancing, presumably way before as well.

    IMO the years have shown there are only two solutions, put up the price, or start a 'second night'.

    I don't think advance booking works, people are prepared to do the extra hassle for something special, but for the social 'better than watching the TV' average dancer it would chase them away IMO. I can't even be bothered to book Utopia (when compulsory fancy dress don't chase me away anyway ) so no way on earth I'll book a regular run-of-the-mill freestyle night

    Both the solutions have disadvantages and advantages, and organisers seem to always be incredibly slow, presumably scared of numbers dropping, before doing either.
    The only true defence is to vote with your feet. What you do if there's nowhere else to go, I don't know. Suffer I guess. Or set up your own night
    Last edited by TA Guy; 1st-February-2009 at 05:18 PM.

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    I also went to IJig yesterday and did notice there were rather a lot of ladies over and yes you do get a better evening when it is gender balanced (I’m sure for the men too as most of the men I danced with were quite sweaty as they probably did not get any break). For me it was not the gender imbalance that spoilt the evening as I had plenty of dances but the fact that there was just no room to dance and getting knocked about so much.

    As for selling tickets in advance it does seem to work for the big events but I would not like to do this on a regular basis as it is a bit restrictive, especially for us ladies who have to get tickets straight away or miss out
    They did shut the door but it was probably too late by the time they did

    On the plus side it was a great atmosphere so you can’t win them all, because I hate it when a place is half empty, hard to get the balance right.

    Finally I don’t think it was purely a case of victim of their own success but a culmination of running workshops and not of a lot of other competition that night for our custom

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Quote Originally Posted by JiveLad View Post
    And another solution could be for the organiser to employ gigolos - who would be there 'on tap' for the ladies.
    Love it!

    I wonder if we'd be able to order our preferred 'type' in advance
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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Last year one of our venues was regularly selling out and we were having to turn people away. What we've done is put on dances there more frequently - now numbers seem to have reached an equilibrium - on Saturday night we were just right, even when there was a popular dance, DecaDance 30 mins down the road.

    Gender balancing is, in my opinion, the wrong way to go. It means you have to turn women away when they try to book - I think that refusing a lady is ungentlemanly and I don't do it - OK, I gender blance on New Year's Eve, but that's when there's a meal and when I expect the balance to be even. Even then, I've never actually had to turn a lady away as I've always managed to bully men into booking at the last minute

    What I've done is look at supply and demand. There was a demand for our product that outstripped supply. So we increased the level of supply. This is what I recommend organisers do - simply put on more nights in their popular venue rather than packing more people in to the nights they run.

    On the gender balancing front, the solution is complicated and, I think, it requires women to learn to lead. There will always be more women who want to dance than men who want to dance. It's a simple fact of life. Restricting supply to women is a short-sighted option as those women will not go away simply because you've refused them a place at your event - they might sit at home brooding and sticking pins into Rocky dolls (to pick a name at random ). I think the way to go is for the ladies to manage the situation themselves. They're all grown-ups and there is no rule that says you need a willy to be able to lead Modern Jive or bosom to be able to follow.

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lory View Post
    Love it!

    I wonder if we'd be able to order our preferred 'type' in advance
    Could they wear firemen's uniform

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Quote Originally Posted by JiveLad View Post
    Eventually, the doors were locked - and people were turned away.

    And I quickly realised that the gender balance was seriously skewed, because early on I had a 'triple' ask (ie 3 asks at the same time) - and it happened again later.
    One thing that I've noticed at some freestyles is that the women get there before the majority of the men, so if this was the case here, it would have exacerbated the gender balancing issue. Has anyone else noticed this?

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post

    On the gender balancing front, the solution is complicated and, I think, it requires women to learn to lead.
    I think the way to go is for the ladies to manage the situation themselves. They're all grown-ups and there is no rule that says you need a willy to be able to lead Modern Jive or bosom to be able to follow.
    It's all very well having women who can lead, but not all ladies want to learn. I lead quite often on class nights for both beginners & intermediate classes, and will lead in freestyle to make sure other ladies get to dance - part of my role as a taxi, but also do this when I'm not on duty otherwise I'd not get to dance as much.

    However for freestyle only nights I don't want to lead. I prefer following and would only choose to lead if an unmissable track came on that a girl friend and I really liked - but I wouldn't ask anyone other than a really good friend (probably one who we could swap the lead around within the track) to follow.

    I think in some venues if you're seen too much as a leader, you'll get asked less to dance by the men.

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Quote Originally Posted by emmylou25 View Post
    It's all very well having women who can lead, but not all ladies want to learn.

    - snip-

    I think in some venues if you're seen too much as a leader, you'll get asked less to dance by the men.
    I think people can do what they like. As I said above, we're all grown ups. I really don't think there should be a problem with ladies being asked less by men: they can also do the asking. In this time of equality there in no reason why they shouldn't. In fact, it would be hypocrisy for a lady to complain that the guys aren't asking them to dance all the time they are not asking the guys to dance.

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxine View Post
    Could they wear firemen's uniform and bring their big long hoses


    What is it about women and firemen? Is it the uniform - or is it the hoses? Is it the fantasy of being carried in a 'fireman's lift'?

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Quote Originally Posted by Twirly View Post
    One thing that I've noticed at some freestyles is that the women get there before the majority of the men, so if this was the case here, it would have exacerbated the gender balancing issue. Has anyone else noticed this?
    Yes youíre right why are we so eager?

    Quote Originally Posted by emmylou25 View Post
    It's all very well having women who can lead, but not all ladies want to learn. I lead quite often on class nights for both beginners & intermediate classes, and will lead in freestyle to make sure other ladies get to dance - part of my role as a taxi, but also do this when I'm not on duty otherwise I'd not get to dance as much.

    However for freestyle only nights I don't want to lead. I prefer following and would only choose to lead if an unmissable track came on that a girl friend and I really liked - but I wouldn't ask anyone other than a really good friend (probably one who we could swap the lead around within the track) to follow.

    I think in some venues if you're seen too much as a leader, you'll get asked less to dance by the men.
    I feel the same, probably because when I used to taxi I would dance most of the evening as a lead. I can dance as an intermediate lead and can do drops and leans but now at freestyles I want to dance as a follower for most of the evening. When I dance as the lead it would be with a couple of my girlfriends or men who want me to lead them. I do like dancing and swapping or stealing the lead, thatís good fun.

    Your last point is spot on and that's why I hardly ever go to those venues anymore

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Quote Originally Posted by JiveLad View Post


    What is it about women and firemen? Is it the uniform - or is it the hoses?
    Is it the fantasy of being carried in a 'fireman's lift'?

    You should try doing a firemanís lift and see if it works and stop altering my quotes and making me look more incorrigible than I already am

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxine View Post
    Yes youíre right why are we so eager?
    I guess that we are just trying to maximise the number of dances that we do get, even if we do end up sitting quite a few out.

    So guys, when do you turn up to freestyles? And if it's the latter part of the evening, why then and not earlier?

    (Of course this could be the wrong place to ask this question, since guys on here tend to be among the keener dancers on the circuit.)

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Quote Originally Posted by robd View Post
    Gender balancing can only be done by an advance booking mechanism.
    Well, being picky, that's not quite true. Nightclubs do on-the-door gender balancing all the time.

    But I'll agree that'd be impractical in the MJ world, and that there's a serious organisational overhead involved in doing it.

    Quote Originally Posted by robd View Post
    Numbers-wise I'd presume there is a limit set by the venue albeit that may not be done with partner dancing considerations in mind so it's for the organisers to determine this themselves and that may take some fine tuning (I remember Utopia team having to tweak this for Twickenham following feedback)
    Yes - the numbers guidance from the venue is typically useless, they're not done with partner dancing in mind.

    Personally, I reckon you should allow at least 5sq metres per couple with MJ. So if you have a floor that's (say) 20m X 20m, that'd mean a maximum of 80 couples.

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bailey View Post
    Personally, I reckon you should allow at least 5sq metres per couple with MJ. So if you have a floor that's (say) 20m X 20m, that'd mean a maximum of 80 couples.
    Some organisers use 50% of the fire safety number as their guide for numbers in relation to MJ events.

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    Re: Victims of their own success?

    Quote Originally Posted by ant View Post
    Some organisers use 50% of the fire safety number as their guide for numbers in relation to MJ events.
    From experience, this seems about right. However, a fire safety officer who comes dancing tells me that there are many factors considered when setting the limits, one of them being the number of fire exits - I'm sure that the number of exits makes no difference to the number of times I get trodden on

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